As I continue to explore local businesses, I notice that I mentally categorize them into general buckets:

  • You Get What You Pay For – varying expected sub-categorizations based on price, product and service quality
  • Value Play – typically lower on the price and service scales but higher on product (or lower product and price and higher service)
  • Over The Top – typically high all around, but can be focused on service only

One thing has to exist before I can ever place a business into one of these categories: The experience needs to be consistent across multiple purchases.

Even if your product is average but you deliver great value – if your business falls into the consistently average AND consistently high value categories every time – you will have a much better chance of retaining a high repurchase rate because your customers know what to expect from you. In fact, I would argue that this specific segment yields the highest return rate across the general public.

Delivering on inconsistency is where businesses get into trouble, unless of course that’s what you’re going for.

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  1. Glenn Ross made a good point above – those “inconsistent extras” really do make a difference. I like to call them “random acts of kindness”, and advocate for ’em.

    It’s being consistent that builds the customer expectation. Not meeting the expectation leads to customer attrition; meeting the expectation leads to customer satisfaction; exceeding the expectation leads to customer loyalty.


  2. I agree with you as far as you go. But the next level up involves the artful use of inconsistency. An experienced employee working with the same customer over time should be able to provide some unexpected delights every so often. See “Lagniappe.” A customer in a jewelry store shouldn’t expect a free jar of jewelry cleaner every time she walks in, but perhaps once in a while. If a lagniappe or delight becomes consistent, it’s robbed of its sense of purpose.


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